The Basics

I wanted to post a few tips that the camera doctor shared at our class a couple of weeks ago.  (For more details on the camera doctor and class, you can read about it here.)  These tips will probably mean the most to people who are currently using an SLR camera, as opposed to a point and shoot.  I thought it was all basic, important information, and wanted to share it in case it would help anyone. Some of it I was aware of, and some of it was new to me.  Hopefully it will help you out!

  • The key to minimizing camera shake (and thereby eliminating blurry pics) is to grip your lens with your left hand (placing it UNDERNEATH the camera), and use your right hand to press the shutter.  Your left hand will act as a tripod, in a way, and will steady the camera when you click the shutter.
  • If you’re a smart photographer and use your neck strap when taking a picture, you’re my hero.  If you’re like me and can’t stand to have something wrapped around your neck, there is a way to ensure that your camera won’t go crashing to the floor if you have butterfingers or trip on something unexpectedly.  Wrap the strap around your wrist (I wrap around my right wrist) so that if you do have an “oops” moment and the camera goes flying out of your hands, it won’t slam into the ground and wind up being the most heartbreaking mistake of your life.
  • Did you know that digital cameras have software that needs to be updated, just like a computer?  I did not know this prior to our class.   The software, when related to cameras, is called “firmware.”  It’s really important to find out a.) if your camera is updated and using the most current firmware, and b.) where to go online to find firmware updates. Google your camera make (i.e.Pentax) and model (i.e. k-x) and “firmware update” to see how to check your camera for the version it’s running and also where to find updates online.  Since I shoot Pentax, I can tell you that the website you need to visit for this info is  My camera was NOT running the most recent firmware, so updating it was the first thing I did after the class. And it was super easy and fast, so don’t be afraid.  I was noticing that my batteries were not lasting all that long (like, they would sometimes die within hours of being replaced), and who knew – that’s an issue that can be corrected by installing the most recent version of firmware.  Fab!
  • This next tip is something that I am TERRIBLE at…and thus is probably why my camera was exhibit #1 for being the dirtiest camera in the class: changing the lens with the camera pointed downward.  Why, you may ask?  Doing so prevents dusts and dirt and debris from landing in the innermost sanctuary of your d-SLR – the sensor.  Mine was so dirty that the dirt and dust was starting to be visible in my pictures (which is TERRIBLE – it should never get to that point!), so last week it was sent to the camera doctor for a nice thorough cleaning.  Good as new!  And will stay that way longer if I can remember to point the camera downward while changing lenses.

That’s it for this lesson…hope to bring you more nuggets of info in the near future!


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